The Paralegal Advisory Service
started in Malawi in May 2000 as a partnership of Penal Reform International
(PRI) with four Malawian NGOs, to provide legal assistance to people awaiting
trial in prison and defend their legal and constitutional rights.
The PASI initiative is currently a nation-wide programme, deploying
trained paralegals to provide legal education, advice and assistance
throughout the criminal justice processes, from arrest to appeal, which
complement and facilitate the work of the lawyers. Some of the key services,
projects and activities that have offered and implemented respectively
include the following:
Since 2008, the Village Mediation Programme (VMP) has focused on
resolution of disputes at community level which has impacted positively on
the ability of rural poor and vulnerable groups, including women and
children, to access justice in civil disputes and petty crimes.
PASI and local partners collected data from key institutions namely the
Judiciary, the Malawi Police Service, the Malawi Prison Service and the
Ministry of Justice on both the legal status of awaiting trial detainees and
issues pertaining to conditions of incarceration in Malawi.
PAS facilitates an approach where paralegals convene Case Coordination
meetings at local level which offer solutions to some problems with an
objective of achieving effective and efficient case flow management.
The success of PAS have been demonstrated through effective public/private
partnerships in the justice system between the not-for-profit sector and
government. The collaborative partnerships that have enhanced Malawi’s
reputation for bringing about changes in the criminal justice, particularly
as they affect the treatment of juveniles and remand prisoners.Read more..
Our Impact & Community Approach
The programme has built linkages with rural communities and
community-based organisations, to spread information about the criminal
justice system, and to develop effective referral mechanisms between
communities and the justice institutions, particularly as it relates to
juveniles, with a view to promoting diversionary and reintegration
mechanisms in the community.
Since 2004, over 75% of juveniles have been diverted from police by
PAS screening processes. With Penal Reform International support,
the PAS programme has been adapted and replicated both in civil and
common-law countries in Africa, including Benin (2002: French MAE), Kenya
(2004: GJ-LOS), Uganda (2005: JLOS) and Niger (2006 French MAE). In 2008,
the PAS programme started as a pilot scheme in three prisons in
Bangladesh (GTZ). With Penal Reform International support, the PAS
programme has been adapted and replicated both in civil and common-law
countries in Africa, including Benin (2002: French MAE), Kenya (2004:
GJ-LOS), Uganda (2005: JLOS) and Niger (2006 French MAE). In 2008, the
PAS programme started as a pilot scheme in three prisons in Bangladesh
(GTZ). Read more..